Rhode Island education officials considering requests to expand 5 charter schools

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Five Rhode Island charter schools are asking to add more than 900 seats and state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist is recommending accepting the requests.

The requests will be considered Monday by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, the Providence Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1xr1B3w ). The schools are in Providence, Woonsocket, South Kingston and Pawtucket.

Charter schools are public schools that have greater flexibility over school hours, curriculum, hiring and budgeting. About 7,000 students attend 25 charter schools in Rhode Island, which has 140,000 students overall.

Stephen Nardelli, executive director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, told the newspaper there were 13,000 applications for about 1,000 charter school openings last year.

"I think we've been around for a bit now, and we've had a number of successful charters," Nardelli said. "They are in a position where they need to expand in order for them to offer more programming."

Beacon Charter School for the Arts high school in Woonsocket wants to add a middle school with 174 students.

Highlander Charter School in Providence has 392 students in pre-kindergarten through 10th grade. It wants to add 133 students in the seventh through 12th grades and pre-kindergarten.

The International Charter School in Pawtucket, which has dual language programs in English and Spanish, and English and Portuguese, has 324 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It wants to add 306 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Kingston Hill Academy in South Kingstown has 180 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and wants to add 260. Its original charter called for adding 260 students, kindergarten through eighth grade.

Times2 Academy, a Providence K-12 school, has 647 students. It would like to add 80, and is developing new classes in science, technology and engineering.

Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com

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